[amazon-product align=”right” alink=”0000FF” bordercolor=”000000″ height=”240″ region=”us” tracking_id=”varsblah-20″]1440458928[/amazon-product]Last week, in the first part of this review, we learned why all our actions should be done with ease, just as night gradually becomes day and winter gradually becomes spring. We also learned why training our bodies and minds will bring us back to rhythm and balance. It’s the only way to get our power back.
The child as an ideal
“The baby of one year, sitting on the shore burying his fat hand in the soft warm sand, is for the time being alive only to its warmth and softness, with a dim consciousness of the air and colour about him. If we could engross ourselves as fully and with as simple a pleasure, we should know far more of the possible power of our minds for both work and rest.”
Children are perfect examples of what can happen when we follow Nature’s laws. Crying or laughing, eating or sleeping, bathing or playing. They are always fully present. The whole world disappears and everything they do is done with beauty and grace. Like children, we should express whatever emotions naturally arise. This doesn’t mean we should throw tantrums when we’re upset. It just means we should find the best channels to let out the emotions instead of making them bigger or smaller than they really are.
Training for motion and rest
“[We] should so move that if every muscle struck a note, only harmony would result. Were it so, the harmony would be most exquisite, for the instrument is Nature’s own.”
We waste a lot of energy when we exercise. Either we use the wrong muscles (as if scrunching up your face will make your abs flat) or else we use too much force. Instead, we need to train efficiently. This also means learning to relax. Spend some time lying on your back and practise giving all your weight to the floor. Let go as much as you can. Don’t do this for more than a few minutes a day, especially if you have a lot of tension. It should never feel like ‘work’.
“Concentration means the focusing of a force; and when the mathematical faculty of the brain alone should be at work, the force is not focused if it is at the same time flying over all other parts of the body in useless strain of innumerable muscles.”
The law that applies to training our bodies also applies to training our minds. To concentrate, we need to drop everything else and focus on just one thing. There’s no need to contract our bodies when we’re thinking or involve senses that don’t need to be involved. If you don’t need to use extra physical or mental energy, just let it go. It will be fresher for use when you need it later.
“Art is immeasurably greater than we are. If we are free and quiet, the poem, the music, the picture will carry us, so that we shall be surprised at our own expression; and when we have finished, instead of being personally elated with conceited delight in what we have done, or exhausted with the superfluous effort used, we shall feel as if a strong wind had blown through us and cleared us for better work in the future.”
True artistic genius isn’t possible if we’re holding any unnecessary tension. It wastes energy and blurs the results. That’s why all our nerves and muscles must be perfectly relaxed before we sing, dance, act, or play a musical instrument. Less effort means more power. It’s the only way we can create real works of art.
The rational care of self
“[The] self-centred care takes away life, closes the sympathies, and makes useful service obnoxious to us; whereas the wholesome care, with useful service as an end, gives renewed life, an open sympathy, and growing power for further usefulness.”
Putting your needs first isn’t selfish. That’s because taking care of yourself means you have more to give to others. This care must be on three levels:
- Physical – exercise, nutrition, and air
- Mental – stimulation and diversion
- Moral – cheerfulness, kindness, and consideration
We can still be unbalanced in any of these areas if we have no purpose for our lives beyond our own concerns. In other words, taking care of ourselves should always be so we can work toward something bigger than just us. There’s nothing selfish about that.
If you enjoyed this post, please remember to Like, Tweet, and Share it using the links at the top or bottom of the page. And remember to subscribe to free alerts or follow me on Twitter to be notified when the next review is released. For more on the subject, watch Dennis Dutton’s fascinating talk on a Darwinian theory of beauty.